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Difficulty using accessible toilet

Hi 

My name is Julie ...I'm new here. I have cerebral palsy. My balance is very poor.

I'm having difficulty using the accessible toilet in my local church in Dorset because the adjustable bar no longer rests in the upright position. I use the bar in this position to help me with standing up and sitting down.

A sign has been put up requesting that the bar be kept in the horizontal position as this meets someone else's needs . However, as far as I understand, the bar can put vertically or horizontally according to each individual person's needs. Am I right in my thinking? Also, I have never seen a sign in another public disabled toilet (e.g. in a theatre or  shopping centre) saying that the bar must be kept horizontal. Is this sort of sign appropriate?

When I initially challenged this, the point was made that I am physically capable of moving the bar from the horizontal to the vertical position and vice versa. This is true. However, when I lifted the bar into the vertical position last Sunday (4th Nov), it just fell straight back down again…it no longer rests in the vertical position at all. When the bar fell down, it fell into me which was painful and knocked me off balance…which I found frightening and thought was very dangerous.

Once I had recovered, I tried to hold the bar upwards with my own strength whilst trying to use the toilet but I found I couldn’t. I’m not strong enough and I almost fell again.

The point has also been made that it is undignified for the other person to always have to ask for the bar to be put in the horizontal position. However, I don’t want to have to ask someone to stand in the toilet with me holding adjustable bar in the vertical position whilst I use the toilet. To me, this would be very undignified and it also takes away my independence.

We are surely both entitled to use the toilet in a way that suits our individual needs? I would like to work positively with my church to resolve this situation. I think it is hard if you aren’t disabled to fully understand disability and access needs. Do you have any advice or documentation that I can share with my church to help address and resolve this issue?

Thanks very much for reading and any help/advice you can give.

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